Coca-Cola: Ecommerce should not be seen as a channel

Coca-Cola says digital transformation and ecommerce are its top priorities, as the fizzy drinks company claims its products are among the fastest selling online.


Coca-Cola believes ecommerce is playing an increasingly important role for the business, but warns that its image of only being the remit of digital “pure players” is wrong and should be challenged.

Speaking at the Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference yesterday (5 September), the company’s executive vice president of Coca-Cola North America, Sandy Douglas, spoke about the “digitisation” of the business, and how technology is changing the way it serves consumers.

Ecommerce, he claimed, gives it the opportunity to reach people using their mobile devices in their homes – and believes there is room for further growth due to the popularity of its products among online retailers. That said, he believes ecommerce still has an image problem that needs tackling.

“We’re finding that our items are among the fastest selling of e-retailers. But remember also that … when we think of e-commerce, we tend to think of the pure play guys. But as we’ve just recently seen, the clicks are looking for bricks and the bricks are looking for clicks,” he said.

READ MORE: Coca-Cola: We need more courage to become a growth-orientated business

Douglas urged the investment community not to discount the more traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. Ecommerce, he said, should also not be seen as a separate channel, due to it being used by consumers for a multitude of reasons.

When we think of e-commerce, we tend to think of the pure play guys. But the clicks are looking for bricks and the bricks are looking for clicks.

Sandy Douglas, Coca-Cola

“Brick retailers are moving fast. They have significant assets and they’re working to serve the shopper. And don’t think of e-commerce as a channel. It’s a way for consumers to research, to buy, to experience brands and then, ultimately, to have them have fulfilled,” he explained.

While the big opportunity for Coca-Cola generally is in quenching thirst, in ecommerce that gratification would be “delayed”, so instead it is looking to home consumption and being part of shoppers “commerce routine”. It also sees an opportunity in takeaways and delivery.

“Think of pizza, for example. Pizza orders have moved onto apps. Our incidence of beverage attachment, if we’re well merchandised on a digital app, is 50% higher than on telephone,” said Douglas.

“Whether it’s the experience, the order, the in-home out-of-stock or click-and-collect, we’re working with retailers to figure out how can we sell the occasion of the collect. But all of it adds up to being another big merchandising opportunity and a chance for us to sell more beverages.”

Hide Comments2 Show Comments
  • Jay Schwarze 6 Sep 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Just for clarification, Sandy Douglas is a “he”.

    • Leonie Roderick 7 Sep 2017 at 11:09 am

      Thank you for pointing that out, Jay. This has now been amended.

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